July 11, 2015 Subject:
Review, 4 Aug 1900, in the Spectator
Surveying and Exploring in Siam. By James McCarthy. (John Murray.
"Mr. McCarthy, who is now "Director-General of the Siamese Government Surveys," tells us the story of his work during the years 1881-1893 in collecting material for a map of Siam. This was before the days of Siam reform ; and the pioneer's life was not a happy one. It would not be easy to say which was his worst enemy, the robber, or the official, or the fever. Our author tells his story with plenty of quiet humour. He has to embark, for instance, on a steamer commanded by a Malay from Cambodia, who professed absolute ignorance of the waters which he had to navigate, -but, by way of compensation, had an Admiralty chart of the coast of Nova Scotia. Indeed, the oddities of the people are innumerable. Possession by an evil spirit, who must be satisfied with copious draughts of alcoholic liquids, is -a common malady ; but we know something of that here. The Siamese, however, has many good points; the Chinaman does not appear to advantage. He is a man of business, but that is pretty nearly all the good that can be said of him. One curious fact mentioned by Mr. McCarthy is the encouragement given by the authorities to the secret societies of these Chinese as counter- balances to the growth of foreign influence. In one instance he knew of a society that had been so favoured out of fear of Christian (Roman Catholic) propagandism. This finds a strange confirmation in what we have lately heard in China, where the temporal ambition of the Roman Church has done much to endanger the peace." http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/4th-august-1900/25/surveying-and-exploring-in-siam-by-james-mccarthy-